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Change in Historical Context

China’s Leadership Transition at the 18th Party Congress

China’s Communist Party has only ruled the country since 1949. But China has a long history of contentious transfers of power among its ruler. In these videos, Yale historian, Peter C. Perdue, an expert on China's last dynasty, the Qing, puts China’s current leadership transition at the 18th Party Congress into historical context.

Is Chinese culture behind the eerie parallels between the secretive and sometimes ruthless imperial succession of the Qing and the process by which today’s Chinese leaders are selected? Probably not, says Perdue. “Autocratic political systems have always had problems with successions whether they are empires or single party systems and, except for Taiwan today, China’s political systems have always been autocratic, single party states with maybe some brief interludes of warlordism and military strife.”

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Peter C. Perdue is a Professor of History at Yale University. He has taught courses on East Asian history and civilization, Chinese social and economic history, the Silk Road, and historical...

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